Tag: images

Using images to save transcription time and errors.

A good habit to get into for any genealogy researcher is using images to save transcription time and errors.

Transcription takes a lot of time. Rather than wasting the time manually transcribing documents while conducting research, or printing direct from a third party database site, I work with images instead. Once the source is created and the image saved and attached within the database, the image can be set aside for transcription later. Not only is this quicker, but it greatly reduced the chance of error, either on your part or the part of those working on the website.

using images to save transcription time and errors

Photoscape’s main editing screen – using images to save transcription time and errors.

As you’ll see if you check out this site to a greater degree, I routinely post transcriptions of old documents so those searching will be able to find them. They are always linked to the page with original image for reference and confirmation of the information in the transcription.

This is especially useful if working with documents or sites in a foreign language. Just snip, crop, edit and save an image of the desired item and you’re free to work with it at a later time when you may have the necessary translation tools. Also, having an image of the original document is invaluable for future reference.

I have received some criticism for the size of my database (over 100,000 individuals), stating there is no way I could be properly researching and have a database that large. The truth is, I do research thoroughly. I have thousands of images and documents that have not been input into my database as yet. Delaying this part allows me to concentrate on conducting my research with my paid Ancestry.com subscription and when the subscription lapses, I can then take time to work with the images and documents without wasting valuable research time on this site.

Windows Snipping Tool

Windows’ Snipping Tool

In the time it takes to transcribe one page of text, I can crop, download, adjust and attach several images. If you’re not used to the functions involved, expect to take a bit of time at first. Once you’re used to the software and this becomes a habit, you’ll be amazed at how quick you are.

Now, I know a lot of researchers use Evernote – and that’s great. I do too, but I find these little tips for handling images very helpful for all areas. It is not possible to select a specific area of a web page with Evernote. The snip and edit is a lot more flexible.

For a simple crop and save function, any ‘snip’ tool works.

On a Windows computer, it’s called simply ‘Snipping Tool’. That’s easy, isn’t it?

Grab Tool

The Mac’s ‘Grab’ tool.

On my Mac, I use ‘Grab’, their own snip tool.

Snip tools are particularly useful for capturing and saving all or portions of what one sees on the computer screen. Just be careful to not be violating copyright.

Once the selection is ‘snipped’ or ‘grabbed’, open your photo software and ‘paste as new’ or paste into another image and save.

There’s no need for special image editing software on a Mac as the ‘preview’ has some great built in editing tools.

My software of choice for complete image editing in Windows is Photoscape, which is available for free. This program allows more in depth editing than simple snipping tools. I use this to work with snipped images to adjust for maximum clarity and readability. Let’s face it, some of the images available do need help.

Be sure to try this and happy snipping!


Google Tools, Tips and Tricks for Genealogy

Google Tools, Tips and Tricks for Genealogy

Google Tools, Tips and Tricks for Genealogy

In my 12+ years of genealogy experience, I have become very attached to the Google tools, tips and tricks for genealogy research!

Once I discovered these tools, I haven’t looked back. I use them frequently in the course of my research.

Free Genealogy Search Help

This is the one Google search tool I use most often – and therefore I’m listing the direct link here. It creates a series of searches using different groupings of keywords from the input boxes for given names, surnames, birth and death places.

Easy Google Genealogy Searcher

Provided by Ancestor Search, this page provides several pre-set custom Google searches and tools. This is especially valuable for those who are not familiar with the codes and conventions for custom searching in Google. Below are basic descriptions and hints for effective use of each search tool. The tools on this page include:

Google Genealogy Search

  • Use (“) quotation marks around a specific word or phrase to be included “as is” in your results.

Search for Genealogy Surname Websites

  • This tool is valuable for finding websites with specific surnames in the title, most especially when surnames are also common English words in every day use such as ‘Mason’ or ‘Forest'; are also ‘given’ or ‘first’ names like ‘James’ or ‘Stuart’. In addition, this search helps to delve into more obscure sites that are deeper in Google results.

Google Book Search

  • An inordinate amount of valuable genealogy data exists within books and publications that in the past were not easily searchable. Google has taken great strides in digitizing ‘in copyright’ and ‘out of copyright’ material for access online. This tool searches the full texts of books digitized by Google. Although not as high in quality as vital records such as births, deaths and marriages, when such records are not available or cannot be found, this is the next best thing. A great benefit of material obtained this way is that it is frequently in narrative form, recounting actual events and circumstances, adding ‘flesh’ to the ‘bones’ of most genealogy research.

Google Blog Search

  • Tool for searching within other blogs. This can be very helpful for finding data compiled by other genealogists who have their own blogs.

Google Newspaper Search

  • Search for obituaries, news stories or other items appearing in newspapers. Be sure to use the surname as well as specific keyword(s) in your search.

Google Search Within or Excluding a Genealogy Site

  • Enter the keyword(s) and relevant site name in the appropriate boxes and select either ‘only with’ or ‘excluding’ in the drop-down box.

Search for Sites Similar To

  • Enter the url of a site you’d like to use as an example. Useful for finding similar sites on a specific topic.

Search for Gedcom Files

  • GEDCOMS are valuable files created by genealogy software for easy transfer and import of data in a manageable size. For this to be useful, it is necessary to have software to either convert to a viewable format or with the ability to import.

Search US Newsgroups for Genealogy Queries

  • Newsgroups are online communities of like-minded researches who post information, queries and answers. To limit results to just genealogy sites, add the word ‘genealogy’ to the search string.

Search for Definitions of Genealogical Words

  • The Google Dictionary searches for definitions for dated words, terms and acronyms. Very useful for finding the meanings of old-fashioned terminology frequently used in genealogy data and research.

Google Genealogy Calculator

  • An amazing tool for calculating are or distance using old-fashioned words and phrasing (i.e. calculating dates using mathematical functions: [1927-82] or converting old fashioned measures into contemporary measures (i.e. 40 rods in miles). If an immediate result is not shown, the page will likely list another calculator to use (i.e. arpents – no answer shows, but an arpent calculator appears toward the bottom of the results page).

Search for Genealogy Images

  • A tool to search for images by keyword using file type and size filters. This is actually quite an amazing little tool. I always use it when reseraching and I’m constantly amazed at how many images it finds on obscure websites that I never would have found.

Search by Location

  • Perform a keyword search filtered by location using address, city, state, and or code.

Google Search for a US Street Map

  • Search for specific locations (old or recent) to locate nearby landmarks (i.e. civic buildings, schools, churches, hospitals, etc.)

Google Search by Language and Country

  • This tool is invaluable for those seeking to search websites in a specific language and/or from a specific country.

Google Translate Text

  • A quick and easy tool for translating snippets of text. Select the languages of conversion from the drop-down box.

Translate a Genealogy Web Page

  • To translate a full web page, type the full url (including ‘http://’) into the search box and select the languages of conversion in the drop-down box.

Google Search by Family Tree

  • This is the one Google tool I use the most. It’s ideal for searching for specific combinations of names and relationships, thereby eliminating a great deal of ‘chaff’.

Following are more generic tools that can be very effective for genealogy related searches:

‘Related Images’ Image Scrolling

  • Every keyword search produces a set of links in the ribbon across the top of the screen. Click on ‘Images’ to go to only image results. Then, across the top of every Google image results page is a list of any ‘related search’ links that exist. Just hover over a link to view a preview ribbon of images from that search.

Image Search

  • This search can be very useful for trying to identify photos by individuals, locations, etc. by uploading the photo for Google to compare to other photos on the Internet to finds similar photos. Searches can be filtered for only faces, clip art, high-res, etc.

Results from Those We Know and Trust

  • When signed into Google+ and with the search options set to allow personal results, Google will highlight results from within your own Google+ community with this icon.
  • If you wish to toggle personal results off, just click on this icon in the top right of your screen.
  • Here is an image of some of my own personal results after searching for the town in which I live:

    Google Plus Personal Results

Include or Exclude Words in Search Results

  • To make sure certain words are included in the search without regard for order, use the ‘+’ symbol (i.e. Christian +Keefer). Likewise, to exclude words, use the ‘-‘ symbol (i.e. Christian -Keefer).

Ensure an Exact Phrase or Group of Words in Search Results

  • Use quotation marks at the beginning and end of the string that you wish to be exact in your search results (i.e. “Christian Keefer”).

Using a Wild Card Effectively

  • Wild card searches are especially effective in genealogy. With Google, the ‘*’ can be used in place of a word if there could possibly be more than one choices in a phrase or if you don’t know what the word might be. For a wildcard search, insert the ‘*’ wildcard in place of the word(s) in question.  (i.e. “Christian Keefer” “* Jacques”). In this example, the missing first name is represented by the ‘*’ and search results come up showing several possible first name possibilities.

Narrowing Search Results

  • Despite our first instinct to throw as many words as possible into a search, this actually can defeat the purpose. The extra words will most likely result in unrelated results due the the extra word(s). Start with as few words as possible and add ‘key’ words to your search in an attempt to narrow your results.

Targeted Searches

  • To search only specific sites, add the ‘site:’ prefix to the desired url (i.e. site:emptynestthemes.com). You can also search specific site types, domains and/or countries signified by a url suffix. Just add the same site prefix when searching (i.e. ‘site:edu’ for education sites; ‘site:ca’ for Canadian sites).
  • To find related websites, use the prefix ‘related:’ in front of the site’s url (i.e. related:emptynestthemes.com).
  • To search for specific file types, use the  ‘filetype:’ prefix in front of the desired file extension within your search string (i.e. filetype:png chilliwack schools).
  • To find definitions with Google, use the ‘define:’ prefix in front of the term to get a list of definitions from several online dictionaries.
  • Search for any numbers in a specific such as price ranges by placing two dots ‘..’ between the two numbers (i.e. Chilliwack real estate $100,000..$300,000).
  • Google can be used as a calculator. Just type in the equation using symbols to represent the functions. (i.e. 100*10, 100/10, 100-10, or 100+10). The first entry in the search results page will be the answer to the equation entered.


Genealogy News Bites – May 5, 2014

genealogy news bites picsIn an effort to help ease the load of searching for genealogy news and genealogy events, I prepare a ‘Genealogy News Bites’ post to gather together what I feel are the most important or informative genealogy news headlines from the previous week (or thereabouts). Following are the most recent and relevant genealogy news headlines.


Olive Tree Genealogy

Victorian Reform School & Prison Records Online – A Contest!

John Wormald age 11 Reform School 1892 Ancestry.co.uk, Ancestry.ca and Ancestry.com have recently published some fascinating reformatory school and prison records from West Yorkshire

Irish Census Records 1821-1911 online

1821 Census Colebrooke (Aghalurcher, Fermanagh) Irish Census Records from 1821 to 1911 (with gaps 1861 to 1901) are now available online.  The earlier records are scattered and many have not survived but The National Archives of Ireland

Prosapia Genetics – Worth the Money?

Yesterday I decided to check out a website that has the genealogy community buzzing. The Examiner called it a “Groundbreaking GPS tool [that] finds your ancestors, genealogy, family tree and history”  Basically it is being touted as

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Panel to discuss genealogy issues in La Verne – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

The panel sponsored by the Southern California Society of Professional Genealogists will provide members and guests with a special opportunity to meet in a roundtable setting


Matthew 1:1-17; The Genealogy of Jesus (Cross-Reference Comparison)

Some believe that Matthew’s genealogy focuses primarily on the family tree of Jesus’ adopted father, Joseph, while Luke’s highlights the lineage of his mother, Mary. Another theory

Genealogy Canada

RCMP obituary card index and notices, 1876-2007

Here is an instance which demonstrates the co-operative partnership that exists between Ancestry and Family Search these days with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) obituaries card and notices between 1876 and 2007

OGS announces officers for 2014-2016

The slate of new officers for 2014-2016 was announced today at the OGS Conference. The president is Alan Campbell. Alan is from the Lambton Branch of the OGS.The vice president i…

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

Evernote Was Made For Genealogy | Eastman’s Online Genealogy …

Cyndi of Cyndi’s List has started a new section entitled, Evernote Was Made For Genealogy. She writes, “I will admit it. I’m an Evernote junkie. I love this tool and all it has to offer

Ancestry.com Blog

Don’t Let Mold Destroy Your Family History

Mold is a four-letter word. It can destroy your documents and it can make you sick. What do you do when you discover that great-grandpa’s Civil War letters or the family Bible has mold on it? Here are some tips

Genealogy News Bites – April 19, 2014

overwhelmed with news

In an effort to help ease the ‘news’ and ‘research’ load, I prepare a ‘Genealogy News Bites’ post to gather together what I feel are the most important or informative headlines from the previous week (or thereabouts).

Following are the recent stories and headlines of interest to the genealogy community since April 10, 2014.



Basics of Genealogy Reference : A Librarian’s Guide

Basics of Genealogy Reference : A Librarian’s Guide free download

“Basics of Genealogy Reference: A Librarian’s Guide” by Jack Simpson Overview – This book offers novice and experienced reference librarians an introduction on proven genealogy techniques and


Free Access to Civil War Records on Fold3

To remember the commencement of the Civil War in April 1861, FOLD 3 invites you to explore all records in its Civil War Collection for free April 14–30. Explore Civil War documents featuring everything from military records to personal accounts and historic writings. Soldier records include service records, pension index cards, “Widows’ Pension” files, Navy survivors certificates



Library and Archives (LAC) Canada

New Genealogy & History Records on Heritage Website

This is an announcement from Library and Archives Canada: The following is a list of digitized microfilms that have been recently added to the Héritage website. Please note that although the titles have been translated, the records are still in the language of origin.

Access to Information and Privacy requests can now be made online

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is launching a form that will enable Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests and payments to be made online. Processing of credit card payments will be made through the Government of Canada’s secure Receiver General Buy Button (RGBB). The request form is located on the LAC website under Transparency

Newly Digitized Microfilms on the Héritage Portal – Recent Additions

The following is a list of digitized microfilms that have been recently added to the Héritage website. Please note that although the titles have been translated, the records are still in the language of origin

Genealogy Canada Blog

Parish registers: Manitoba

Heritage Canada has put more digital records online, and one of the records that you may find helpful are the parish records for Manitoba.Government registration of vital statistics (baptism, marriage and death) for Manitoba did not begin until the late 1800s

Parish registers have been put online

Irene Schofield just sent a notice that the registers of St. Ann Roman Catholic Church, Guyborough, Nova Scotia has just been transcribed and have been put on http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~saintann/Records/home.html


Genealogy Canada: Ancestry.ca releases Lower Canada and …

Ancestry.ca releases Lower Canada and Canada East Census Records. Ancestry.ca has announced the release of more than 120,000 Canadian Census records from Lower Canada (now Quebec)


Probate in the United Kingdom: An Overview

After finding your ancestors in civil registration, census records, and parish registers, there are many different record types that are widely available for the UK. When I’m doing research, I usually look for probate records, and specifically wills, of my ancestors

Pennsylvania Death Certificates Now Available

Pennsylvania research just got easier, thanks to the release of Pennsylvania, Death Certificates 1906-1924. This collection contains more than 2.4 million records and has images of the actual death certificates

Tattoos: Signs of an “Interesting Past”

Jack London is quoted as saying, “Show me a man with a tattoo and I’ll show you a man with an interesting past.” My great-great-grandfather, Thomas Howley, was certainly no exception. In 1864, he joined the U.S. Navy under an assumed name so his wife wouldn’t find out

DNA Hints – Providing More Clarity To My DNA Results

Last week we announced that the AncestryDNA team collectively has found 2.7 million DNA hints. 10 days later, we are nearing 3 million DNA hints – and the number is increasing as more and more people get tested and build out their family tree. Remember: a hint is more than a DNA match. You get a DNA hint when AncestryDNA has found a common ancestor you and a DNA match share

Ancestry Scanning to Return in 2014 – Genealogy Jamboree Blog

We have received confirmation that Ancestry will again be on site during Jamboree to provide free scanning services. In past years, scanning has been one of the most popular activities at Jamboree. We know you’ll be happy

Online Trees. Root of All Evil?

…So are trees the root of all evil? In a word, no. And in fact, not only are they not evil, if you are doing genealogy correctly, they must be part of your research plan. Yep, I went there. Now, I’m sure some of you just spit coffee


King George’s Answer to the White Feather: World War I’s Silver War Badge

The British Empire lost more than 700,000 service personnel in World War I, and almost three times that many were discharged because of wounds or illness that left them physically unfit for service. The service and sacrifice of more than 800,000 of these men—and women—is recognized in the collection of Silver War Badge Records, 1914–1920, now on Ancestry.co.uk

The Ancestry Insider

Win Ancestry.com Subscription, DNA Test, and Research Package

The unofficial, unauthorized view of Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. The Ancestry Insider reports on, defends, and constructively criticizes these two websites and associated topics. The author attempts to fairly and

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter (EOGN)

Update: 2014 Genealogy Cruise Early Booking Special – Eastman’s …

I wrote earlier (at http://goo.gl/MttkJE and at http://goo.gl/qhG8Oe) about a 7-day genealogy cruise on board the Celebrity Silhouette in the Eastern Caribbean that starts on December 7, 2014. I will be one of the speakers on

Federation of Genealogical Societies calls for Award Nominations …

April 10, 2014 – Austin, TX. The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) calls for genealogy contribution award nominations through June 15, 2014. The specific award categories and a link to the submission form can be

Brookings Institution Blog

Trace Your Genetic Ancestry Through National Geographic’s Genographic Project

Ever wonder where you came from? Now with the help of National Geographic’s Genographic Project, you can find out. Population geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells and a team at National Geo (www.genographic.com) will send you a Geno 2.0 test kit that collect


Attention Indexers! Your Feedback Is Needed

With the introduction of the new indexing program, FamilySearch is planning to introduce a new process to maintain indexing quality. In this new model, a single volunteer will index and submit a batch, and a second volunteer will review the completed work. The person reviewing the batch will have the ability to add corrections

FamilySearch Adds More Than 2.1 Million Images to Collections from Italy

FamilySearch has added more than 2.1 million images to collections from Italy. Notable collection updates include the 89,778 images from the new Italy, Lucca, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1807–1814, collection; the 445,302 images from the new Italy, Genova, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1796–1812, 1838–1859, 1866–1899, collection

Genealogy and History News

Chris Paton–Thomas MacEntee Downunder Tour Survey Stats …

Their events include genealogy expos, roadshows, cruises, and more some specialised meetings from time to time. To help with future events they rely on feedback, so after each event they send out a survey which allows

The National Archives (UK)

To display or not to display – that is the question…

Faded book spines, curtain backs, and tapestries; we’ve all witnessed the irreversible damage that light can cause to decorative objects.  Such colour change can detrimentally affect the aesthetic appeal, interpretation

National Genealogical Society

UpFront with NGS: The newest genealogy-related Apps for ios…

It also puts me in a bind as far as this blog, since I really like to report “news” that has broad utility and ideally that would be announcing the availability of a genealogy-related app for both platforms

Microsoft Paint is a simple, reliable tool for genealogy research.

I am always exploring new software and online tools to simplify and streamline tasks related to my genealogy research and blogging and one tool I depend on is Microsoft Paint.

Step 3 - Resized

Final resized image.

Previous posts have described old favorites such as ‘Photoscape‘, and all components of ‘My Ideal Setup…‘ in general.

One program I have neglected to mention in the past is Microsoft Paint. It has been the unsung hero of my genealogy research because it is an integral part of Microsoft Office and resides quietly in the background, waiting for me to call upon it.

Recently, I have made some changes to how I prepare and write posts, and manage the images included. I do still use high quality images that are linked to be opened in a new window at full size. I have learned, however, that using the full size image and resizing it on the post page  has a negative impact on page load speed. For these full size images, I use Photoscape and a Firefox Addon called ‘Awesome Screenshot‘ to take full page clips and images larger than the visible screen, as Microsoft Paint and Snipping Tool can have a detrimental effect on the image quality and appearance, and can only clip what is visible in the window.

Instead, I now clip a small section of the original image to use in the main post and link to an attachment page with the full size image. For these smaller image links, I use Paint. It is quick, easy, and used in conjunction with the ‘Snipping Tool’, makes creating these smaller image links very quick and easy.

To illustrate my procedure, I frequently use images from Wikipedia, making sure to publish credit for the image at the end of the post and in the ‘comments’ section of the ‘details’ tab of the ‘properties’ window for the file when right clicked to bring up the window.

To do this, I find an image I’d like to use. For this example, I accessed the ‘Acadians‘ article and selected the Acadian flag image. It will not be linked to the original, full size image, so I save the smaller image size as described in this post. Once clipped, I resize the image using either the ‘percentage’ or ‘pixels’ selections in the ‘Resize’ tab of ‘Paint’. Be sure to click the ‘maintain aspect ratio’ selection to avoid image distortion.

Add Media PropertiesIf I do still want to use full size versions of these images resized automatically, despite the negative impact on page load speed, I click through and save the full size image on the image attachment and description page, making sure to note the image credit information as described above. The link and post image size are set in the ‘add media’ window (see right). Adjust size using the percentage selections on the ‘Edit Image’. To link to the full size version of the image, select the ‘Link to Image’ button and the url will automatically fill the input box.

For the smaller version of the image, I still note the image credit information, but I use the ‘Snipping Tool’ to clip the image from the main Wikipedia page if it’s a suitable size for my needs. Then, I open the clipped image in ‘Paint’, resize it to the size I want to use if necessary, add any text, etc., and save the final image.

Screen capture of Wikipedia page.

Step 1 – Open the clipped image in Paint.

Resize the image using either the 'percentage' or 'pixels' selections. Be sure to click the 'maintain aspect ratio' selection to avoid image distortion.

Step 2 – Resize to the desired size if necessary and save.

Step 3 – Insert resized image into post (see top right at beginning of post).

I use the ‘Riot‘ optimization software to optimize all images for size and quality, and diminish the negative impact of using large images.

Photo credit: Wikipedia.org

I wait with bated breath for the completion of two amazing new digitization projects by Library and Archives Canada.

WWI Soldier in serviceWWI Expeditionary Force personnel and service records.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has announced they will be digitizing 640,000 service and personnel records of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).After being housed at LAC, these files are the most heavily consulted collection and the amount of research being conducted through the use of the paper documents and LAC is anxious to digitize them to preserve the originals for future generations.

Unfortunately, this project will require closure of portions of the collection, starting with letters A through D being closed March 2014 and expected to be available digitally online sometime in the summer. LAC will be unable to provide personal consultation and copying services from the closed collections.

This collection in particular is of interest to me because of my research into our two family members who were killed in WWI: Philias Joseph Albert Emery, who was missing and assumed killed during the preparations at Vimy Ridge; and Joseph Turmaine, who was missing in action and assumed dead at the battle of Courcelette.

The project is expected to be complete sometime in 2015.

LAC requests that interested parties consult the Fact Sheet: Digitization of Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files.

Upper Canada governmentDigitization and indexing of millions of government administrative and personal documents.

This digitization project is expected to triple the digitized content LAC already has available online for free.

New content being added to the Héritage website will include, in part: Civil Secretary’s letter books of Upper Canada; despatches from the Colonial Office; general index to the Public Archives of Canada; Heir and Devisee Commission; Lower Canada, declarations of aliens; port records; and Upper Canada land books and sundries.

photo credit: Toronto Public Library Special Collections via photopin cc
photo credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives via photopin cc